Monday, March 21, 2011

The New Temple

John 2:19 Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." 20 The Jews then said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?" 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body.

19 ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· λύσατε τὸν ναὸν τοῦτον καὶ ἐν τρισὶν ἡμέραις ἐγερῶ αὐτόν. 20  εἶπαν οὖν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι· τεσσεράκοντα καὶ ἓξ ἔτεσιν οἰκοδομήθη ὁ ναὸς οὗτος, καὶ σὺ ἐν τρισὶν ἡμέραις ἐγερεῖς αὐτόν; 21  ἐκεῖνος δὲ ἔλεγεν περὶ τοῦ ναοῦ τοῦ σώματος αὐτοῦ.

It's funny that when I went through Acts I really struggled to find things to write about each day, but now that I'm in John I have more than I know what to do with. There are great things to write about the wedding at Cana, but I think that this passage after Jesus cleared the temple is worth discussing too.

One of the big hermeneutical bones that Dispensationalists pick with Covenantal folks is that they claim that they are more literal when they read the text. In other words, they take passages literally unless there is a good reason not to. That's certainly commendable as it demonstrates a very high view of the text. However, it is problematic when our Lord does not do the same thing.

If we did not have verse 21 we would think along with the Jews that Jesus referred to the physical temple. However, here the text tells us that Jesus was speaking in a figurative way. He was referring to His own body, which in context would have been completely unintelligible except for the clarification of verse 21. This does not mean that we should look for figurative allusions all over the place, but it does serve to point out that we need to be careful about how we define "literal interpretation."

If we take Jesus at His words then it seems to me that He became the new and better temple. There was no need for the old one because He would do away with the sacrificial system. This seems to imply that the temple described in Ezekiel cannot be a new temple set up in a millenial kingdom with real animal sacrifices on it. Otherwise, that would be going backwards to the types and shadows of the Old Covenant.

Matthew 2:15 shows us that Jesus is the true Israel. Here we see that He is the true temple as well. In short, Jesus came to fulfill the Old Testament. He did it in a way that the Jews did not really understand and won't understand until God opens their eyes. Let's be careful about how literal we are and make sure that we are consistent. That's my goal. I'm sure that I'm inconsistent elsewhere. Hopefully this slow systematic approach to the New Testament will help me to see where.

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